The high octane women of bantamweight set the stage for UFC 192 this October 3, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
The Match Up
Women's Bantamweight Jessica Eye +205 vs. Julianna Peña -245
3 Things You Should Know
1. Eye is not the sum of her marijuana drama. Expect the diligent fighter she's always been.
Jessica and Brent didn't see eye to eye (thanks BE comments section) many moons ago when she got busted for pot, and her reaction was less than noble. Since then she's had a fairly rough return, going 1-2 in her last three, only beating Leslie Smith. Losing to Sarah Kaufman and Miesha Tate isn't exactly a black eye on her record (no I'm not trying to set a record for bad puns), but it still puts her in the tough position of having to win or take the proverbial pink slip.
She looked fine against Tate in a solid, back and forth war. Now she's pitted against Peña, who is a massive favorite. Can she right the career ship against a solid TUF prospect?
2. Despite losing all the ligaments assembled by random mutation in her knee, Peña showed no worse for wear in beating Milana Dudieva in April.
Dudieva is a fragile fighter, but she has game, and Peña blitzed her after a two year layoff because of tearing her MCL, ACL, and LCL all at once.
Pena recently turned 26, so she still has plenty of time to pick up a few new habits. This is the perfect fight for her because Eye is a veteran who has beaten other solid veterans. Either Peña will falter in a learning experience, or will have her hand raised to symbolize her developmental progression. It's a win-win situation, but Peña would prefer just the outright win. It won't be easy.
3. These are some strangely lopsided odds for a very competitive fight.
You said it man.
I mean, sure it got overturned and was controversial to begin with, but Eye did beat Sarah Kaufman. And it's not like she got blown out against Tate and Davis. I've always appreciated Eye's boxing game. A lot of MMA fighters male and female feel a specific need to elaborate their striking when sometimes less is more. Eye's a perfect distillation of this philosophy, using crisp combinations, and an active jab to win with boxing. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to be versatile, obviously. But your strengths are what make you special, so it's best to accentuate them rather than turn vices into virtues.
Pena takes a no nonsense approach to fighting as well, which is what I love about this matchup. She has a very in your face style, relying on momentum to grind her opponents down in the clinch. Her right hand packs some modest power, and she's equally aggressive on the ground. The problem with both women is defense. I hope Jessica Eye won't read this and threaten to tell me what she really thinks to my face because I think I've been fairly generous and consider constructive criticism a part of healthy living, but Eye's problems extend beyond simply grappling.
She's fine on the ground. In fact, she's only been submitted once, and that was back in 2011. It's not her specialty, and as Tate proved, a persistent grappling affair can be an effective approach to countering Eye's boxing, but even on the feet Eye leaves herself open too much. Eye doesn't have major knockout power, so her lack of defense is that much more pronounced. Peña doesn't need to land a right hand like she's Jake Ellenberger. She just needs to catch her the way Tate did. Eye leaves herself open not because she doesn't know how to defend, but because she's active to a fault.
Peña should win by accruing a collective offense of punching, clinching, and grappling. Eye has to accrue only punches, which will be harder to do against a very forward moving fighter like Peña. Close fight all around, but Peña is primed to have a very good year with potential title shot implications.
Julianna Peña by Decision.